Unlucky in love?

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AUBURN — Richard Moulton Jr. was 14 when he started dating Gayla Sheldon. She was turning 18. Moulton’s father told his son to stop seeing her. So, the boy did.

But when he was 19, Moulton started dating Sheldon again. Eight months later, her estranged husband and his friend were shot dead in Rumford.

Moulton and his friend, Eric Hamel, were charged with the killings.

The two young men, recent high school honor roll graduates, had no criminal records as adults.

Police said the reason for the shootings appeared to be revenge: Moulton had paid back Victor Sheldon for having allegedly assaulted Gayla Sheldon. That assault reportedly happened at Moulton’s Mexico apartment in July, less than a month before the shootings. That charge was dismissed the day Sheldon was killed.

In a jail interview Wednesday, Moulton said he and Gayla Sheldon stopped speaking the day of his arrest.

He’s had nothing to do with her since, he said. Sitting in Androscoggin County Jail awaiting trial, Moulton said he has one regret: He should have stayed away from Gayla Sheldon.

“I should have listened to my dad,” he said.

Moulton declined to give specifics about his relationship with her or to talk about his case.

In court records, Hamel told police that Gayla Sheldon had met with him and Moulton three or four times to plan the killing of her estranged husband. She had been afraid Victor Sheldon would get custody of their two sons, Hamel told police. He had agreed to do the shootings for $2,000, he said.

Asked last week about Gayla Sheldon’s fear of losing her children, Moulton said she had confided in him at various times her concerns over custody.

Did that have anything to do with what happened in August? he was asked.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” he said.

She has not been charged in connection with the shootings.

*  *  *

Since his arrest, Moulton has written poetry. He sent a sampling of poems to the Sun Journal a month ago seeking publication. He later agreed to an interview. Several of his poems reference the object of his affections who recently stopped communicating with him.

“The night I asked her to become my spouse;

We had our life planned out to have kids and live in a house;

From there on, I thought we were going to be forever together;

But a few weeks passed, then the next thing we knew, our future flew away as fast as a tail feather.”

The unnamed woman in the poem is not Gayla Sheldon, Moulton said. Her name is Ashley Towers. She and Moulton had been romantically involved on and off since he was a preteen, he said. He calls her the love of his life.

She has stopped answering his letters and stopped visiting him in jail, Moulton said. He doesn’t know why.

“She told me she was going to stick with me through this whole thing,” he said. “I’m hoping someday to hear back from her.”

He also writes to his 2-year-old son, Caleb, whose mother is Jenny Vicars, another former romance. Caleb’s grandmother is collecting those letters to give to Caleb when he’s old enough to read and understand them, Moulton said.

At age 20, Moulton is facing two possible life sentences in prison over two murders that appear to involve neither of those two women.

*  *  *

Dressed in a blue jail suit, Moulton leaned toward the glass wall separating him from a reporter. The color of his suit signifies that he’s in medium security. For the first month and a half after arriving at the jail, he was wearing a bright orange suit in maximum security. There, he was confined to his cell for all but a couple of hours a day, he said.

Hamel also is at the jail, but in maximum security. Moulton hasn’t seen him since last summer, he said.

In at least two poems Moulton had written since January, he expressed remorse about what happened in the living room at 244 Pine St. in Rumford on the evening of Aug. 3, 2009.

“I am very sorry for what I did,” he wrote in a poem titled, “Father and Son Memories.” In the poem titled, “My Heart has Emptied,” he wrote: “I hope you can forgive me for what I’ve done.”

He doesn’t talk about his case with his family, his cellmate or Pastor Bob, whom he sees every Friday at the jail.

Moulton quoted Pastor Bob Giguere as saying: “Everybody sins and there’s no sin that’s worse than the other. It’s just a sin.”

“Pastor Bob said, ‘We’re all sinners.’ I told him, ‘Yeah, I know.’”

Moulton said Pastor Bob told him to ask for forgiveness. Moulton said he has done that.

“I told him it’s hard for me to forgive myself for what happened, but he told me if I do that, then I, too, shall be forgiven.”

Asked whether he was to blame for what happened to Roger Day and Victor Sheldon, Moulton said: “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Moulton said he used to hang out with Victor Sheldon at Day’s house on Pine Street. He said he didn’t know Day well, but had known Sheldon since they were kids.

Moulton said he had talked to the jail’s mental health worker about his case. He said he was prescribed medication for anxiety and that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. An earlier event triggered his first case of PTSD, involving a fire at his apartment building in Farmington years ago. The second event was seeing the dead bodies of Day and Sheldon at Day’s home the night of the shooting, Moulton said.

He also was prescribed medication to help him sleep.

“I couldn’t sleep very well. I used to wake up constantly. It was bad,” he said. He was breaking out in cold sweats, shivering when he woke up.

He couldn’t get the images of the shooting scene out of his head, he said. He continues to have nightmares about it, he said, as his eyes fixed, as if in a trance, on the bottom of the window.

*  *  *

Moulton said he regrets his actions and feels bad for the victims’ families.

“I’m really sorry it happened … I shouldn’t have taken part in it … I shouldn’t have gone back to (Gayla Sheldon). I’m sorry I even did that.”

About Penny Sheldon, Victor’s mother, Moulton said: “I know it must be hard for her and her family. The same thing for Roger’s family.”

He spends his days reading books (mostly fantasy and science fiction) and watching the news on TV, paying little attention to crime shows. He plays basketball and lifts weights. He lines up photos of his family members on the door of his cell to look at when he exercises there. He threw away the photo of Towers after she stopped writing, he said, regretting that action.

He tries not to listen to country music, its lyrics weighty with tales of woe. “It just makes us all feel worse,” he said.

That’s all he heard when he was in maximum security.

“I’d just stand by the window and I’d look outside and get all depressed. Every time I heard a song that I knew, I just start tearing up. I’d start crying and get all mad at myself.”

In some of his poems, he writes about a future life on the outside.

“And hopefully, when I get out of here;

You and our family once again to find;

And be bound forever;

Together.”

And:

“When I get out I would like to have some fun;

And become a true father to our son.”

Asked whether he is hoping for an acquittal at trial, Moulton said his lawyer has tried to prepare him for prison.

“He told me I’ll be doing some time,” Moulton said. “I’m not sure how much.”

Asked whether he’s discussed his trial strategy with his lawyer, Moulton shook his head. He did the same when asked whether he might be offering a defense of guilty by reason of abnormal condition of mind, something about which Hamel’s attorney has hinted.

Moulton’s lawyer, Ron Hoffman, filed motions suggesting Moulton may suffer from “mental limitations.” Moulton said he didn’t know what that meant. He said he was a special education student at school. Hoffman is seeking a psychological examination for his client. Moulton said he hadn’t met with any psychologists since going to jail, but was told by his lawyer that he would be.

Meanwhile, Moulton said he is thinking about what he’ll do once he has regained his freedom. It’s what gets him up in the morning and through each day.

Having trained as an auto mechanic during high school, he said he plans to get a job and pursue a college education. His plans don’t include women, he said.

“I’ve got a family out there that still cares about me,” he said.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

Richard Moulton’s Poems

1. Poem 1
2. Poem 2
3. Poem 3
4. Poem 4
5. Poem 5
6. Poem 6
7. Poem 7
8. Poem 8
9. Poem 9
10. Poem 10
11. Poem 11
12. Poem 12
13. Poem 13
14. Poem 14
15. Poem 15
16. Poem 16
17. Poem 17
18. Poem 18
19. Poem 19
20. Poem 20
21. Poem 21
22. Poem 22
23. Poem 23

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